There were protests by some lawmakers as the Senate confirmed the nomination of one 39 career and 39 out of 41 non-career ambassadors-designate forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari for approval by the upper legislative chamber.
The confirmation was sequel to the presentation and consideration of a report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs by its chairman, Senator Muhammadu Adamu Bulkachuwa (APC Bauchi North).
President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter dated June 17, 2020 entitled, “Appointment of Non-career Ambassadors” sought for confirmation of the nominees by the upper legislative chamber.
Some senators, however, kicked against the confirmation of some ambassadors-designate for different reasons of not interacting with them before now or the purpose of spread of political offices among the zones.
Minority Leader, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe (APC Abia South),:asked Senator Bulkachuwa to explain criteria used in arriving at the nominees that made some states to have three nominees while some have one.
He said:” I just want the chairman to enlighten Nigerians, the criteria which the nominations were made in respect of states. Some states have three, some have one. So, on what basis were the nominations made?”
It would be recalled that while states like Kano, Kwara and Oyo had three non-career ambassadorial nominees, Kebbi and Abia as well as the FCT had none.
Senator Abaribe was immediately overruled by the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, who asked chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs to ignore the question.
Lawan said: “He (Bulkachuwa) doesn’t have to answer that question. Mr. Chairman, please, don’t answer that question.”
Senator representing the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Phillip Aduda, also queried list of nominees as he noted that the Territory has no nominee.
Senators Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue North East) and Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC Taraba Central), equally demanded that confirmation of nominees from their respective states be stepped down.
Specifically, Senator Suswam argued that his senatorial district has been deprived of representation while Senator Yusuf claimed that the nominee from Taraba was not known to him.
Also, the Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP Taraba South), also demanded that the nominee from his state, Adamu Hassan be stepped down for failing to interact with senators from the state.
However, all the protesting lawmakers were all overruled by the Senate President who insisted that nomination of ambassadors-designate was an Executive function.
He said: “It is an Executive function, what we always say is that when people are nominated they are always advised to liaise with their Senators.
“So, we want to advise the nominees to meet with their Senators. We can’t sit here and decide, it is an Executive function, it is their prerogative.”
The Senate later confirmed 39 out of the 41 ambassadors-designate, leaving out nominees from Yobe State, Alhaji Yusuf Mohammed and his counterpart from Niger State, Air Commodore Peter Ndabake Gana (rtd).
In his closing remarks, the Senate President advised nominees who have been accused of not having good relationship with their senators to try and correct such negative perception by having fruitful interactions before they were assigned their respective international duty posts.
Lawan also advised the federal government to cultivate the habit of adequate funding and staffing of foreign embassies.
He said: “I want to commend distinguished senators for a job well done. Niger and Yobe, you go and sort out your issues.
“I want to tell nominees who haven’t interacted with their senators to go and do so. If you haven’t done that, it is very important that before you are posted, you do that and we want to see that that has taken place.”
The Senate President, while stressing the need for government to fund the embassies or merge some of them, said “it is very important that we fund the embassies.
Those confirmed as ambassadors-designate are Engr. Umar Suleiman and Kevin Peter from Adamawa State, Oboro Effiong Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Elijah Onyeagba -Anambra, Abubakar D. Ibrahim (Bauchi), Phillip K. Ikurusi -(Bayelsa), Tarzoor Terhemen and Paul Oga Adikwu (Benue), Al-Bashir Ibrahim All-Hassan and Brig. Gen. Bwala Yusuf Bukar (Borno), Prof. Monique Ekpong (Cross River), Ominyi N. Eze (Ebonyi) and Yamah Mohammed Musa from Edo State.i
Others include Major General C. O. Ugwu representing Enugu, Dr. Hajara I. Salim (Gombe), Obieze Ijeoma Chinyerem (Imo), Ali M. Magashi -Jigawa, Prof. M. A. Makarfi -Kaduna, Hamisu Umar Takalmawa, Jazuli Imam Galadanci and Mrs. Amina Ado Kurawa from Kano State, Amb. Yahaya Lawal (Katsina), Dare Sunday Awoniyi (Kogi), Ibrahim Kayode Laaro, Abioye Bello and Mrs. Zahra Maazu Omar from Kwara State, respectively.
The rest are Demola Seriki representing Lagos, Henry John Omaku -Nasarawa, Chief Sarafa Tunji Ishola (Ogun), Mrs. Opunimi Akinkugbe -Ondo, Adejare Bello (Osun), Adesina Alege and Ms. Folakemi Akinyele (Oyo), Shehu Abdullahi Yibaikwai (Plateau), Hon. Maureen Tamuno (Rivers), Faruk Yabo (Sokoto), Adamu M. Hassan (Taraba) and Abubakar Moriki from Zamfara State.
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